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Syria Optimistic over US Peace Push | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syria’s official press voiced rare optimism on Sunday over US efforts to reach peace in the Middle East, after a visit to Damascus by a top-ranking American envoy.

US envoy George Mitchell held talks on Saturday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the new US administration seeks to engage Damascus in its push to kick-start the stalled Arab-Israeli peace process.

Mitchell, the highest-ranking US official to visit Syria since President Barack Obama took office in January, said Damascus has an “integral role” to play in Washington’s efforts.

“Today, there is real optimism because the two parties realize the importance of improving bilateral relations in order to achieve global peace,” Ath-Thawra government newspaper said.

The Al-Baath newspaper of the ruling Baath party accused Israel of being “obstinate” and called for “serious and influential US intervention” to deal with the Jewish state.

“The road to peace is clear and the American administration is capable of paving the way (to a solution),” it said.

“The mission is arduous but it is possible if the new administration upholds its promises and overcomes several obstacles, namely pro-Israeli pressure groups.”

The comments came before hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to unveil his Middle East policies amid pressure from Washington to endorse a two-state solution and halt settlement activity.

“Israel must realize that the United States is seriously determined” to make progress in the peace process, Ath-Thawra said.